Meredith Kercher, a student on the Erasumus study abroad program, was killed in Perugia on the night of November 1st, 2007. One of her roommates was charged with participating in the murder: US student Amanda Knox, was also in Perguia studying, but not as a part of a program. On the six year anniversary of the murder you would expect that the media would accurately report on the developments in the trials of those who are accused. However, this year all of the major US news organizations failed to provide balanced reporting on the anniversary of Meredith’s murder.
Apparently, there is no shame in failing to provide accurate reporting in a murder case.
The worst offender is King 5 Seattle reporter Linda Byron, who simply pushes the entire Knox defense case in her reporting. Her reports are discussed in separate articles on this site.
First- the accurate details of the most recent DNA test results:
Results of the most recent DNA test were publicized October 31. This test was on previously untested DNA, and the results are reported to be Amanda Knox’s DNA.
Tests in the first trial on different DNA on the knife found Amanda Knox’s DNA along with DNA belonging to the victim, Meredith Kercher. The latest DNA results are in addition to the prior DNA results.
The US media (and some in the UK) all lead their reporting with sensationalist headlines that misstated the findings. All of the headlines are some form of “No victim DNA on knife.” You can see their headlines in the image below.
By using this language the reports create the perception that the current test overrides ALL of the prior test results, and that there absolutely is NO victim DNA on the knife.
Some of them do report on the past DNA findings, however those findings are not elevated to the same level of certainty/conclusiveness as the current test results. When mentioned, the past test results are dismissed by referring to them only as a prosecution’s argument. The prior test results are NOT discussed as scientific test result.
Fox News: Language used makes a reader believe that the new test confirms no victim DNA on the knife. Later in the article they included a comment that the “prosecution is expected to argue” that past DNA testing results are still valid.
ABC: To ABC, the past DNA tests don’t exist at all– they don’t include mention of those results in their latest report. They do report that the current test results are on a “spot”.
Huffington post: Reports that “new tests” have revealed Knox DNA, but not victim DNA. Huffington post’s is one of the worst reports as they deliberately state that the current test results call into question the past test results on DIFFERENT DNA: “Initial tests appeared to show both Kercher and Knox’s DNA on the knife, and it became an important part of the first trial, in which Knox and Sollecito were convicted. However, the new reports raise the question of whether the knife was actually used in the crime.”
The guardian: does not discuss past tests until last paragraph of report, and ends the entire article with “Those findings were ruled unreliable in the first appeal, which overturned the convictions.” This leaves a reader the perception that the past findings are completely invalid. However, the past findings were only disputed, not invalidated.
Sky News: The Sky News report is also one of the worst; the current results are spoken of as overall results of testing on the knife. tTe past DNA results are only part of a “prosecution argument”, one which the defense has “long rejected” and which are incompatible with the current test results (as mis-reported by Sky News). By initially discussing the defense dismissal of past DNA test results before discussing the past DNA test results as a prosecution argument Sky news undermines the past test results:
“The finding is seen as a boost to Knox’s defence team, which has long rejected the prosecutors’ theory that the knife was used to kill Kercher. However, prosecutors are expected to argue that a separate trace on the knife that had been tested previously indicate the presence of Kercher’s DNA.”
Daily Mail: (Honorable mention) Though the Daily Mail is usually known for its overblown, sensationalist headlines, this time they’re more accurate then the mainstream media (though they do wrongly state the knife was taken from the apartment meredith was killed in instead of Sollecito’s):
Daily Mail also wrongly claims the past DNA results were dismissed.
Appealing a conviction for murder
In addition, the papers almost entirely fail on accurately discussing the current process in Italy; Amanda Knox is currently appealing her conviction for murder. The acquittal of Knox & Sollecito does not exist; it was strongly annulled by the Supreme Court of italy. Amanda Knox was never “found innocent.” (King 5 Seattle has confirmed to me that they know Knox is appealing her conviction).
The Guardian is the only report that accurately calls the current process an appeals. (However, their accuracy is undermined by choosing to end the article with a finding from the annulled acquittal).
ABC news: does not use the word “appeal” at all. Only reports on “the trial.”
HuffingtonPost: Says the acquittal was overturned, but calls current process a “retrial.”
Sky News : Says the acquittal was overturned, but calls current process a “retrial.”
Fox News: Says the acquittal was overturned, but calls current process a “retrial.”
On the anniversary of the murder of Meredith Kercher, doesn’t she deserve better?